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Trailer Deconstruction: Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

by Rodrigo Perez
October 18, 2013 1:47 PM
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Here’s some other aspects of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and Anderson’s previous films to consider.

It looks like he's finally moved on from the Future Bold font. “Moonrise Kingdom” employed a custom cursive font by designer Jessica Hische and the font for 'Budapest Hotel' is Archer (Bold/Semibold) which looks like the font Rockwell's slightly upscale older brother. (Thanks to Slate for the tip.)

While past collaborators include Owen Wilson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Noah Baumbach, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is the first feature-length screenplay to be produced that Anderson has sole writing credit on. It should be noted that he also had sole credit on his lovely 'Darjeeling' short "Hotel Chevalier,” and also went solo on the unproduced “The Rosenthaler Suite” he wrote for Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment. However, the story-by credit does have a co-author and that’s Hugo Guinness. He’s an artist whose illustrations can be glimpsed at Eli Cash’s apartment in "The Royal Tenenbaums" (just to the right of the giant paintings by Miguel Calderon), and he also voiced a farmer character in “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

Recurring Wes Anderson Motif's

Young star-crossed lovers: Amidst the mile-a-minute screwball antics in the trailer, you get your first peek at what may be the true center of the film: a budding relationship between Tony Revolori and Saoirse Ronan’s characters. (Take note of the penultimate shot just before the title card as the two come together in embrace.) It’s a theme seen most recently in “Moonrise Kingdom” but goes as far back as Ritchie and Margot in “The Royal Tenenbaums.”

Hotels: “The Royal Tenenbaums” has the Lindbergh Palace Hotel which unceremoniously kicks out Royal (who later goes to work there as an elevator operator), “The Hotel Chevalier” is obviously named after its locale, as is “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Hotels means hotel elevators and old school/pre war ones at that, which come with operators to run them. “The Royal Tenenbaums” has Dusty and Royal and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has Gustave, Zero and one other unidentified character working the buttons and levers.

Trains: The scuffle towards the end of the trailer looks to take place in a train car, not unlike where Wes set his 2007 film “The Darjeeling Limited,” which was named after the train where the bulk of the story is set.

Cad surrogate fathers: Father/son relationships are well documented in Wes Anderson films—“Rushmore” has Herman Blume and Bert Fischer, “The Royal Tenenbaums” has Royal, “The Life Aquatic” has Steve Zissou, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” has a father/son dynamic and even the ghost of a deceased father haunts the brothers in “The Darjeeling Limited.” But a specific type of surrogate father, the cad, has appeared in several as well. Max Fischer’s stand-in father figure Herman Blume cheats on his wife with abandon as does Royal Tenenbaum. The surrogate father motif is alive and well in “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” as M. Gustave seems to be jackass louche who has his way with women including the very old and recently deceased Madame D.

The recurring cast members: Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, and Bob Balaban (who is unseen in the trailer) are all back for 'Budapest.' The biggest news to celebrate may be that after several years of absence, Owen Wilson also returns to the fold for the first time since 2007 (though he had a small voice role in “Fantastic Mr. Fox”). Anderson seems to keep expanding members of his troupe and this time it appears to be Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Mathieu Amalric, Saoirse Ronan, and newcomer Tony Revolori as well as a not-seen-in-the-trailer “Blue Is The Warmest Color” star Léa Seydoux. Once you appear in a Wes Anderson movie, like recent additions Harvey Keitel and Adrien Brody, you tend to pop up again and again.

Sucker punch gag: One of the biggest laugh out loud moments in the trailer is the roundtable sucker punch, which is a gag that Anderson appears to be fond of. In 'The Life Aquatic' Steve Zissou memorably punched out his son Ned with the line, "You just smile and act natural ... and then you sucker punch him."

The awkward quick bolt get-away: Another quick gag is Gustave making a mad dash away from the authorities which is similar to one character who does the same thing in the 'The Life Aquatic' and Herman Blume does it in “Rushmore” as well.

Wrought Iron Fences: If the image of a sturdy iron fence encasing a building looks oddly familiar, it’s because we’re not the only ones who have worn out our Criterion “Rushmore” disc.

Heist film: Watching the trailer closely and you can begin to see the elements come together (a painting, a jailbreak, a mad chase) that it appears Anderson (however loosely) is returning to the genre he made his debut with 18 years prior: the heist film. However increasingly stylized his work has become over the years, that should give even old school “Bottle Rocket” fans something to be excited for.

From what we've been hearing the film will be a strictly scored affair by Alexandre Desplat (that means no pop music interludes from The Kinks, etc.) and has been highly influenced by Russian folk music as can be heard in the trailer. This isn't a total surprise as "Moonrise Kingdom" had a bare minimum of pop songs (some Hank Williams can be heard briefly on the car radio) and as this is a '30s set period piece, it makes sense to move further away from anachronistic pop.

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  • Skinarcik | March 16, 2014 11:23 AMReply

    The replacement painting is by Rich Pellegrino.

  • Sophie | February 20, 2014 8:05 PMReply

    I don't think the painting's by Schiele, I think it's a pastiche?

  • Pan | January 2, 2014 2:10 AMReply

    All the uniforms pictured are base on those of the WWI Austro-Hungarian army, hence the inspector's Germanic appearance.

  • Zach | October 22, 2013 9:48 PMReply

    For quick run get-aways you can't forget Dignan's last stand in BOTTLE ROCKET.

  • Jake Yenor | October 19, 2013 6:05 PMReply

    Didn't realize any of that, wow.

    - Jake Yenor

  • MAX FISHER | October 19, 2013 11:50 AMReply

    norton looks like sacha baron cohen in HUGO

    kietel looks like the scary guy in PANS LABYRINTH

  • DG | October 19, 2013 2:51 AMReply

    Bottle Rocket and Rushmore are his best movies. Him and Owen are the shit together, they need to write a script together. I'll probably see this but it looks pretty whatever

  • DG | October 19, 2013 2:58 AM

    ^ another^ script

  • nate | October 18, 2013 10:43 PMReply

    thank you for this delightful write up. what good fun. you guys are terrific. keep it up.

  • Big Chap | October 18, 2013 8:29 PMReply

    Stupid article because nobody cares about Wes Anderson, maybe some nerds but really nobody actually cares about him. Grand Budapest Hotel at best will make 150 million dollars at the box office, simply because nobody actually cares about his films.

  • dan | October 19, 2013 10:52 AM

    Not as stupid as your comment.

  • Posts | October 18, 2013 6:50 PMReply

    Great detective work, 90% of this is spot on.

  • f90 | October 18, 2013 6:46 PMReply

    The different aspect ratio thing was done in "More American Graffiti."

  • Brian | October 18, 2013 6:38 PMReply

    Mathieu Amalric could be playing a priest based on the garb but more importantly because the light illuminating his face has a pattern very similar to the mesh in confession rooms. There's often a bit of Catholicism running in Anderson's movies.

  • john morton | October 18, 2013 4:47 PMReply

    Presumably Tilda Swinton is playing the part Angela Lansbury was earmarked to take?

  • Alan B | October 20, 2013 3:27 PM

    She was actually doing 'Driving Miss Daisy' on stage with James Earl Jones, so "wonder" away, but that's still the reason in reality.

  • Pilar | October 19, 2013 5:53 PM

    Scheduling conflict? just how much work has Lansbury got these days? Wonder if she pulled out because the script didnt turn out to her liking?

  • Karen | October 18, 2013 6:59 PM

    Yes, sadly Angela Lansbury had to dropped out because of the scheduling conflict after the filming was pushed back for almost 2 months. Kinda cool that Anderson replaced her with a much younger Swinton instead of recasting with some other 70+ actress.
    Hopefully she'll get a chance to work with him in a future.

  • tristan eldritch | October 18, 2013 3:17 PMReply

    Always feel like this guy should be making dollhouses, or pop-up books, or elaborate wedding cakes, instead of movies, but it looks like fun.

  • hank | October 18, 2013 2:48 PMReply

    what does it mean exactly when you say, "way back in the day when the “Mean Streets” director co-signed onto his then little-cared-for debut “Bottle Rocket” ... Scorsese's only involvement was saying that he admired the movie after it's release, as far as I know.

  • Pilar | October 19, 2013 5:54 PM

    That's all it takes. Scorsese is all things cinema.

  • cirkusfolk | October 18, 2013 8:03 PM

    Yeah, Marty didn't have anything to do with the making of that film. It was more of Robert Redford for allowing it into Sundance and James L Brooks for putting up some money.

  • cirkusfolk | October 18, 2013 2:47 PMReply

    Let me go on record to say Moonrise Kingdom was the first Wes Anderson film I did not like. At first, I was disappointed with The Darjeeling Limited, but have gone on to appreciate it enough to buy the Criterion edition. With that being said, this film looks too closely connected to Moonrise to give my expectations pause. At first I was excited at the prospect of Wes working with his biggest cast yet, and the idea of the film centering around a hotel. But after watching that trailer, I'm afraid the large cast might hurt the film. It appears as though everyone is playing too over the top, stylized characters that would never appear in real life. An such as Jude Law said, most of these actors parts will probably be too little to truely enjoy. Second, as with Moonrise, the period piece setting (which means no pop songs) worried me, as does the set decoration. Ever since Bottle Rocket, Wes' sets have been more and more detailed with every film. Most of the time it works, like in the Life Aquatic but lately, as with Moonrise, it draws too much attention to itself and is too cute or cutes sake. Basically what I'm trying to say is that Wes' films are almost becoming a parody of themselves in the same way Terrence Malicls last two films were. I hope I am wrong because this piece got me more excited for the film than the trailer did. I'm definatley not one to tell Wes he needs to make different types of movies. Actually it's the opposite. Grand Budapest might be too much of a change for me. I like the old font, slo motion and pop songs.

  • P-DUB | October 20, 2013 1:39 PM

    Also, Pilar,

    People are allowed to not like certain films in master filmmaker's canons. I think Kubrick is one of the greatest to ever live and made several of the greatest films we'll ever imagine, but that doesn't mean I have to like Lolita as much as the others. Fear & Desire and Killer's Kiss are also amateur efforts that only vaguely hint at who he would become. I have loved every single Malick film up until this year when To The Wonder did nothing for me. I'll still be there opening weekend for his next release. Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Spielberg, Kurosawa, Lean, etc.., all have some turkeys in their filmography (obviously to varying degrees and taste) but that doesn't mean that I can't love them still.

    Blanket comments like the one you made are one of major problems with fandom today. Just because you love one thing doesn't mean you can't like something else they made. People are allowed to be disappointed.

  • P-DUB | October 20, 2013 1:33 PM

    Doesn't this seem like a huge over-reaction to a trailer? That's a pretty hardcore breakdown about what you don't like about a film you haven't seen a single full scene from.

    And the lack of pop songs concerns you yet you're complaint is that Anderson has become a parody of himself for doing the same thing?

    And you think the sets in this film go too far and call attention to themselves yet you have no complaints about the Tenenbaum house or the various ships, outfits, sets, and creatures from Life Aquatic? Or the entirety of Fantastic Mr. Fox?

    I think you should probably go into the film with an open mind. I don't take any issue with you not liking Moonrise Kingdom, just that you seem so ready to not like this new film from a filmmaker you generally love based solely on the trailer? Give it a shot! I like that it's a big, goofy, ensemble comedy. It seems more overtly slapsticky and plain fun. I think that seems like something Anderson would do very well and I'm excited.

  • Pilar | October 19, 2013 5:57 PM

    You had me until Malick. To not like a Malick film, is like someone not liking a Kubrick film. You're entitled to your opinion but it doesn't mean anything lol. The same certainly cannot be said about Anderson.

  • brou | October 18, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    I don't think that just because the hotel is the "grand budapest" it should imply that the film takes place in hungary. I mean there's "schloss lutz" on the gate, schloss means catsle in german.
    By the way I'm particularly curious of the way the nazi-like invasion will be treated... Using some kind of -let's put it like that- parodic nazi visuals (the "ZZ" stuff) could be a risky choice. Maybe there will be some narrative device with the different timelines, with different unreliable narrators who fantasize and enjolivate the actual story.

  • ferencv | October 18, 2013 4:03 PM

    It looks like it's set in the Swiss Alps + only one character, Jeff Goldblum's has a Hungarian name (Kovacs).

  • RP | October 18, 2013 2:30 PM

    Put it this way. I fully agree with all your posits (piece was getting long enough as it is, but Wes did bring up Hungary in past interviews). It could easily be set in a Wes Anderson-y Eastern European country that has elements of Hungary and Germany and yes the ZZ stuff is very Nazi-like and with the backdrop of WWII on the horizon "the ever changing continent" I'm sure that's meant to be alluded to in his fanciful way.

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